‘What was very important for me was that I wanted to play at a club where I could see myself for many years, and Tottenham was just the one’, he said.
‘I’m very proud, very happy, excited. I think there is a fantastic future ahead for the club, and I wanted so much to be a part of that.
‘Spurs has fantastic players, fantastic manager, a fantastic set-up.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has slotted in brilliantly since joining Tottenham from Southampton
Hojbjerg moved to north London in a £20m deal in August and it’s proved an excellent decision
‘I feel lucky and proud to be a part of it, and I want to give my everything, but I also want to learn a lot, to push for the next step, but still keeping that consistency.’
Those are the words of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg upon signing for Tottenham Hotspur on August 11.
Fast forward three-and-a-half months to today and Spurs’ summer signing looks like he’s been at the club for years as he continues to take several steps forward.
Hojbjerg joined the north London outfit in a £20million transfer from Southampton. Despite being the club’s first signing of the summer window, the midfielder’s arrival was overshadowed by Tottenham’s later acquisitions – none more so than the return of Gareth Bale on loan from Real Madrid.
Hojbjerg may have been a signing that didn’t create much fanfare among Tottenham supporters, but they already know his worth under their manager Jose Mourinho.
The 25-year-old has started all nine of Tottenham’s Premier League games this season and it’s no coincidence that they sit top of the table on 20 points – level with reigning champions Liverpool but with a plus-seven greater goal difference.
The midfielder has started all nine Premier League games for high-flying Spurs this season
Playing at the base of Spurs’ midfield in a 4-2-3-1 formation, the Denmark international has been brilliant in the double-pivot role this season.
Out of Mourinho’s central midfield options he has been the standout player.
Only Tanguy Ndombele has also featured in all nine games this season, but the Frenchman has been used twice off the bench.
In terms of his main skillset it’s unsurprising that Hojbjerg leads his team-mates (Ndombele, Moussa Sissoko, Giovani Lo Celso and Harry Winks) in the defensive statistics.
Nobody has made more tackles (27) than the Dane or made more recoveries (64). The caveat should be, of course, that he has played more minutes (810) than anyone else. However, the drop off between him and Sissoko is striking considering the latter has played the second most minutes (573). The Frenchman has made 35 recoveries – 29 fewer than Hojbjerg – and made 12 tackles – 17 less in this category.
He has made 27 tackles in the league this season – the most out of Spurs’ central midfielders
|Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg||Tanguy Ndombele||Moussa Sissoko||Giovani Lo Celso||Harry Winks|
|Passes played into box||8||9||4||15||5|
|Passing Accuracy (%)||89.06||82.21||89.05||79.26||87.62|
|Dribbled past by opponent||16||9||4||7||4|
|Duel Success (%)||48.6||45.31||44||42.86||50|
In terms of duel success, Hojbjerg has won 48.6 per cent of his encounters. Only Winks (50 per cent) has a higher percentage but he has featured just four times in the top flight this season and played 257 minutes. Therefore, this can boost his average.
In an attacking sense, the Tottenham No 5’s game is equally impressive. He and Ndombele are the only two central midfielders to provide an assist (one each) while nobody has made more passes than the former (695). Ndombele is the nearest at 281 passes – highlighting the amount of phases that go through Hojbjerg.
In terms of passing accuracy too, the midfielder tops this category with 89.06 per cent pass completion. In fact, in his five seasons in the Premier League (including his spell at Southampton) this is Hojbjerg’s best season for this statistic. He’s also enjoying career highs in terms of average number of passes (77.2) and tackles (3.2) per game.
The above highlights Hojbjerg’s influence on Tottenham but it’s how his role has modified in England’s top flight which is the most eye-catching.
The 25-year-old Dane is in possession a lot more now than when he was at Southampton (right)
Under Mourinho he has become more of a ball player than when he was at Southampton. His first season at Southampton (2016-17 season) yielded an average of 69.4 passes per 90 minutes and that is the closest figure to his current career high. Again this should be caveated by the fact that Tottenham tend to have more possession in games than Southampton do.
But you don’t have to just compare Hojbjerg’s numbers against his own or his Tottenham team-mates’ to note his improvement.
Before this weekend’s action (November 27-30) no Premier League midfielder has made more passes (695) or completed more (619) than the 25-year-old this season so far. Manchester City’s Rodri is second in both statistics (644 passes and 586 completed).
In terms of touches, Hojbjerg is the chief manipulator of a ball (806 touches). Leicester City star Youri Tielemans is second in this list but has touched the ball 71 times fewer (738).
When comparing defensive efforts only Everton midfielder Allan (35) and ex-Southampton team-mate Oriol Romeu (33) have made more tackles.
No Premier League midfielder has had more touches of a ball than Hojbjerg (806) this season
Hojbjerg is joint-sixth in terms of recoveries – a list that is headed up Rodri and Leeds’ Stuart Dallas (75 each), with Dallas’ figures boosted by the fact he can also play in defence for Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
Relating to clearances and duels won, Hojbjerg is also in the top 10 – emphasising his all-action impact at Spurs.
Hojbjerg is Mourinho’s midfield general and was excellent in their 2-0 statement win over title rivals Manchester City on November 21.
A picture of Mourinho at full-time passionately growling at his midfielder was soon picked up by the club’s social media account. Hojbjerg duly quote-tweeted it with the message ‘beast mode’.
The Dane has certainly been that as the Spurs go marching on. They’ll be hoping that form continues on Sunday at bitter rivals Chelsea.
After beating Manchester City, Jose Mourinho passionately growled at his midfield general
Hojbjerg will be hoping to celebrate at full-time on Sunday when Spurs travel to rivals Chelsea